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Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 12: Biodiversity

From: Karen Blaustein <kblaustein@haverhill-ps.org>
Date: Thu Mar 29 2007 - 12:44:00 EDT

Hi Mary and Ed,
The first subject I want to discuss concerning the subject of preserving
biodiversity is recycling. It is really such a shame that the majority
of the American people really have no regard for the environment. On
the surface they might care, but their actions do not reflect this
concern. I really try my best to do my part in preserving the
environment by recycling. We have mandatory recycling in our town. Every
2 weeks the recycling company picks up at the curbside. There is no
extra fee for either the curbside garbage or the recycling in our town
(of course our taxes are high). Therefore, there is really no excuse
(except for laziness) not to recycle. However, if one drives down the
street in my neighborhood on recycling day, they would notice that less
than one-third of the houses actually have their blue recycling
containers out with their garbage. People are so consumed with their
everyday lives they do not take the small amount of extra effort to
recycle. In fact, I have noticed that the people that don't recycle are
the ones that have the most garbage (5 bags/family verses our 1). The
town used to require that all citizens use "see-through" plastic bags so
they can verify if you were actually recycling. These bags are no longer
required and the town does not check up on you to see if you are
recycling or not. The people on my block that do not recycle lose a
good amount of my respect for them as citizens. The good news is that
the people that are recycling are producing a some money for the town; I
just wish it was enough to lower our taxes!
 
The next subject I want to discuss is global warming. It is amazing how
many people still deny the existence of global warming. Unfortunately,
it is a concept that is hard to verify with concrete data. However, it
is apparent that the amount and damages incurred of the recent wave of
hurricanes in this country alone has significantly increased. If you
have been following the Academy Awards you must know that Al Gore was
part of a team that won an award for their documentary entitled An
Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore recently testified in front of House and
Senate panels trying to persuade these panels that global warming should
not be a political issue but rather a moral issue. "The planet has a
fever," Gore said. "If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If
the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say, 'Well, I read
a science fiction novel that told me it's not a problem.' If the crib's
on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame retardant. You take
action." He was countered by Texas Rep. Joe Barton, the leading
Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He challenged
Gore's conclusion that carbon dioxide emissions cause rising global
temperatures. The point is that either way we are polluting our
environment and we need to preserve what we have left.
 
It is unbelievable that humans have only lived on the earth for a short
period of time as compared with the 4.6 billion years the earth has
existed and have done so much damage. I hope we can start to mend our
ways and look around us and confront the issues.
 
-Karen

________________________________

From: channel-talkbio-bounces@learner.org on behalf of Mary Johnston
Sent: Wed 3/28/2007 8:11 AM
To: channel-talkbio@learner.org
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 12: Biodiversity

Hi Karen and Ed,
   This week's unit was biodiversity and what an expansive topic this
is! It's funny that this was the topic for the week because my husband
rented the movie "Happy Feet" and we started watching it. At the
beginning is a fairly long commercial targeted at the overfishing of our
oceans and how this is contributing to the loss of biodiversity. There
is a campaign for restaurants and even seafood companies to label their
products with a seal of approval which basically indicates that the
seafood caught met current fish/wildlife preservation guidelines. It was
good to see a big budget commercial movie that actually had a
conscience. I have thought many times about over-fishing myself because
my husband and I sometimes like to go deep sea fishing and the captain
of the boat is always using radar to target the schools of fish, so it
is essentially always a "big catch" day. Probably a large number of
people don't eat what they catch. It is more for the glory of getting
the big fish. In any case, I can see seafood prices going on the rise
as they become even more scarce or as with certain types of fish have to
be raised in fish farms because there has been so much oevr-fishing in
the wild.
      I was also thinking about the movie "Medicine Man" with Sean
Connory. This is a fictionalized account of a scientist who finds an
accidental cure for cancer while in the rainforest, but due to human
encroachment and other issues, he cannot ever seem to find it again and
his work is lost. The scientist is against anyone else coming in and
trying to "help" him because he realizes that once many people arrive,
they will start destroying the habitat and that is exactly what happens.
In the end, the cure eludes the scientist and it is a sad story of the
loss of so much biodiversity and so much hope for a cure for cancer.
This movie probably isn't appropriate to show to kids because it has
severe language in it and some students might be immature about the
dress of the native tribes in the film, but I think the general theme
fits right in with this week's topic.
       The more we explore nature, the more variety of living things we
find. These living things are a critical part of our global community.
Understanding and preserving them could prove key to many of our
unaswered questions, particularly in medical science. For example, in
recent years it was dicovered that the Japanes Yew tree can be used to
make the drug taxol which has some anti-cancer effects. If we destroy
or fragment habitats in which this organism and many others thrive, then
we are perhaps hurting our chances of saving many lives and finding
cures to diseases that plague us.
         I know that with population sizes always on the rise and the
ever increasing demand for new buildinggs and restaurants and
technology, that it seems logical for us to keep building more and more.
However, we are all familiar with the idea of carrying capacity. That
is, we reach a critical mass and then begin poisoning ourselves.
Perhaps more preservation and protection laws will make us better
utilize already developed land. For example, instead of destroying
farms to build companies and highways, let's revitalize urban areas.
They are already developed, so if new buildings are put there the impact
on the wildlife will not be so severe and it will provide jobs for
people in the local community. Our own district of Haverhill is
attempting to do this. Instead of just developing the rural part of the
city, there is a group of citizens trying to push for revitalization of
the urban areas. I think this is a great idea. Do you two have any
suggestions to the loss of biodiversity dilemma? Let me know.
Mary Johnston

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Received on Thu Mar 29 16:27:47 2007

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